This excerpt from the 11th Chapter of the Book of Isaiah comprises the reading for today’s Morning Prayer in the Divine Office. Today, on Christmas Eve, we reflect on this passage and contemplate the birthday of our Savior, so nigh. We reflect, with joy, on how our Lord marvelously choose to enter the created world as the Incarnation. We also anticipate with sorrow – but also with hope – the Redemptive Act, which Jesus performed on Calvary.
Christmas and the Cross are intimately linked. The Responsory for this Morning’s Prayer emphasizes this point:
Tomorrow will be the day of you salvation, the sinfulness of the earth will be destroyed.
The Savior of the world will be our king, the sinfulness of the world will be destroyed.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Tomorrow will be the day of you salvation, the sinfulness of the earth will be destroyed.
Again, we see this in Isaiah’s prophesy. Just look at the key role “wood” plays (i.e. the “Stump of Jesse).
I interpret it in this way. The stump of Jesse is the wood of the Cross. Jesus is the “Shoot” sprouting from this stump. The stump is dead, but the “Shoot” is green and full of life-blood. The “Shoot” gives His life-blood to us for our Salvation.
One can also look upon the roots and the bud in a similar manner. Reflecting upon the concept of the roots and but, one might also interpret the root of Jesse to be the Jewish Faith. Its fulfillment is the Christian Faith, budding forth and blossoming in the Person of Jesus Christ and in His Holy Catholic Church. The readings for these sacred days – both for Holy Mass and in the Divine Office – are full of symbolism; meditating on this symbolism can lead to a richer appreciation of the Holy Faith we profess.
Without Christmas there is no joy; without the Cross there is no Hope. We achieve all of these through faith. As we celebrate Christmas, let us embrace both the newborn Savior who lies in a wooden manger, as well as the crucified Redeemer Who hung on the Cross.
I wish you all a Blessed Christmas!